For those of you not familiar with this aircraft type, it is, as its name suggests, a bush plane – big wheels, slow stall, taildragger etc etc. What makes this one different is that via its four door configuration, it will carry five people and their luggage into and out of pretty well most places – paved or unpaved – that you could expect to take a plane. Almost uniquely for a bush plane, it has a single, cantilever wing (no lift struts). It will cruise around 140 knots and it goes without saying that it is as rugged as they come.
What makes it even more interesting is that its gross weight falls below the 1500 kgs limit for the new Australian Recreational Pilot License (RPL). OK, Steve currently ‘only’ holds an Ultralight Pilot Certificate and an RPL so he will need a co-pilot with a PPL or higher if he wants to carry more than one friend or get a class 2 medical. But in the meantime, he can carry everyone else’s luggage when we all go off on a trip!
The Bush Hawk (or Bush Pig to its friends) has a bit of a varied history – originally designed back in the 60’s by the Found brothers of Ontario, Canada, the design was updated put into production for a while by Found Aircraft. In the late 2000’s it morphed into the Expedition Aircraft but alas, as of early 2014 Found Aircraft no longer manufactures aircraft – Steve’s Bush Hawk was was built in 2005 as a company demonstrator, then put to work in Alaska by Mountain Flying Services as an air-taxi and sight-seeing aircraft.There are some great pictures of Steve’s Bush Hawk on the Mountain Flying Services website.
Having helped unload the aircraft from the container, the first thing that strikes you is the sheer size of the thing. Even without its wing installed, it’s impressive. On it’s 29″ bush tyres, it will look truly massive and even at 1.86m (6’2″ in old money) I will be able to walk under the wing without ducking my head. Space in the second row seats is palatial – I can sit behind the pilot and stretch my legs all the way out in front of me. Hopefully there will be room for a table for our in-flight service!
The aircraft is now being re-assembled at the CAE Aircraft Maintenance hangar at Northern Avenue, Moorabbin. For the time being it will remain on its USA N-registration. Although Steve has many hours of tailwheel experience on the Carbon and other cubs, he’s very wisely arranging some further training and familiarisation with an experienced instructor. Although by all accounts, one of the great features of the Bush Hawk is that it handles like a happy pussycat on the ground and in the air.
More news and pictures when the aircraft is ready to fly.